Wednesday, Sep 21, 2022

My Take On The News

 

Three Days of War

There was a war in the south this week, which ended on Sunday night.

Unlike in previous military campaigns, which came in response to rocket fire from Gaza, the opening salvo in this case was fired by the IDF. Israel claimed that it was aware that Islamic Jihad was planning to fire rockets, and possibly missiles, into Israeli territory, and they chose to attack Gaza as a preemptive strike. For two days before the war actually broke out, the south was in the grip of dread; the roads were closed, everyday life was put on hold, and the residents were essentially under siege. And then the IDF strike finally began. Like all the previous operations in Gaza, which seem to take place on average once every few years (and almost always during an election period), this operation was given a name: “Operation Breaking Dawn.”

The IDF began its attack on Gaza on Friday, and the entire country immediately went on alert. Every city within a range of 80 kilometers of Gaza was automatically considered to be in the danger zone, and in fact, the missiles from Gaza reached as far as Yerushalayim. Air raid sirens sounded in Ramot, as well as in Modiin Illit and Telz Stone. On instructions from the rabbonim, a chareidi radio station transmitted a silent broadcast, with the intention of reporting the locations of any red alert sirens that sounded. B’chasdei Shomayim, there were no fatalities, although an elderly man in the south suffered a heart attack while running to a bomb shelter.

Amazingly, while hundreds of rockets were fired from Gaza, this brief period of hostilities did not cause much damage. According to the IDF spokesman, about 1,100 missile launches were detected during the operation. About 200 missiles fell within Gaza itself, and about 990 projectiles crossed the border into Israeli territory. The Iron Dome intercepted about 380 of those missiles, with a 96% success rate. Incidentally, an Iron Dome battery was even brought to Yerushalayim on Friday.

Meanwhile, according to data gathered by the Israeli army, 36 Palestinians were killed by Israeli strikes in the Gaza strip, 25 of whom were terrorists. Fifteen Palestinians, including children, were also killed by failed missile launches within Gaza itself. In one particular case, four children were killed by a Palestinian missile that landed in Jabaliya, and the Palestinians hurried to publish pictures of the fatalities throughout the world. The Arab members of the Knesset joined the chorus of condemnations against the IDF, accusing them of murdering innocent Palestinian children — until it was reported that the rocket that claimed their lives had been fired by the Arabs themselves.

Hamas Did Not Intervene

As I mentioned, the ceasefire took effect on Sunday night, and Israel released a statement thanking Egypt for its role in brokering peace: “The State of Israel thanks Egypt for its efforts. If the ceasefire is violated, Israel reserves the right to respond with full force. We will not allow anyone to disrupt the lives of the residents of Israel.”

Despite the ceasefire, residents of the south were asked to remain on alert, and many events that were planned for the bein hazemanim vacation were canceled or postponed. The situation in the south will have to be reassessed on a daily basis.

In terms of the actual outcome of this war, Islamic Jihad declared victory, announcing that “a ceasefire was reached in Gaza after all of Islamic Jihad’s demands were met in full.” I am sure that we will soon find out exactly what that means. We know that the Egyptians promised to try to secure the release of the Islamic Jihad leader in Yehuda and Shomron who was arrested last week, but they could not guarantee that he would be freed. It is also known that Defense Minister Benny Gantz conferred with the leaders of the security services and instructed them to prepare for a possible continuation of the fighting in Gaza.

On Sunday morning, the Home Front Command notified the residents of Sderot and the Eshkol region that they were no longer required to remain in reinforced areas; however, Israelis living closer to Gaza were still instructed to remain on alert.

We have now reached the point when the government will begin evaluating the success of Operation Breaking Dawn. The consensus is that the operation was a success only because of one critical fact: that Hamas did not intervene. Islamic Jihad alone has virtually no military power, and its threats are not taken seriously. Its operatives know how to carry out terror attacks (unfortunately), but they do not know how to wage war. Hamas, on the other hand, has an organized army and a much greater missile-launching capacity. This military operation specifically targeted Islamic Jihad, in the hope that Hamas would not interfere in a battle that was not their own. Israel took a risk and succeeded. Or, better yet, we should say that Hashem protects the foolish. We can only hope that life in this country will now return to normal.

Of course, the political fallout of this military campaign is now being determined. During the hostilities, all of the parties expressed support for the IDF, and Bibi Netanyahu even met with Yair Lapid while the battle was in full swing. But as soon as the guns fell silent, the disputes erupted. The left is furious with Lapid for failing to notify them before he launched the operation; the right is furious with him for failing to bring about a decisive result before ending it. And the biggest question is whether the events of this past weekend will give Lapid a boost in the upcoming election. (I am not going so far as to speculate that the entire operation was a political stunt, but there are definitely some who believe that it was.) That, at least, will likely be revealed by the polls in the coming days.

Lapid Cancels His Vacation

Yes, the prime minister of Israel is a smalltime politician whose strength lies mainly in his mouth. As far as military knowhow is concerned, he is an absolute zero. He is utterly inexperienced, having performed his own army service as a journalist rather than a soldier. He is a conceited man who knows nothing about economics, diplomacy, or security, no matter what he thinks he knows. And it is rather unsettling to think that he is the head of the Israeli government.

Lapid recently announced that he was planning to go on vacation this past weekend — on Shabbos, the ninth of Av, and on Sunday, when the fast of Tisha B’Av would actually be observed. He was probably completely unaware that his planned getaway coincided with the most tragic day on the Jewish calendar, but as usual, he wasn’t prepared to admit his ignorance. When he began coming under fire (even from secular Israelis) for deciding to take a vacation on a national day of mourning, Lapid responded that he did not understand the reason for the criticism and that his vacation should not offend anyone.

In a predictable development, Lapid soon backed down, but only in part: The Prime Minister’s Office released an announcement that in response to the public backlash against his plans, he would be canceling his vacation on Sunday and returning to Tel Aviv on Motzoei Shabbos. That was somewhat ridiculous, since it did not satisfy his critics at all. Two days later, his office announced that he had decided to scrap his vacation plans altogether in light of the security situation. This seemed to make him into a complete fool: Not only did he end up canceling his vacation plans, as his detractors had demanded, he had also made a point of explaining to the public that the decision had nothing to do with Tisha B’Av, even though that was the reason he had been criticized in the first place.

To make matters worse, Lapid’s explanation created renewed apprehension in the south. Everyone was anxious to know what had happened on Thursday or Friday that had caused him to cancel his plans. In fact, he seemed to be sending a clear signal to Israel’s enemies. Had he received some new intelligence that had given rise to his concern? Did the government have some information it wasn’t sharing with the residents of the south, who were bound to be directly affected by any hostilities? Well, on Friday everyone understood: Lapid had decided to go to war.

Unfortunately, the problems extend far beyond the south itself. The sense that this government is not being headed by a responsible, serious person has had a detrimental impact on many other sensitive and volatile locations. Take Kever Yosef in Shechem, for instance, which was the site of a clash between Palestinians and IDF soldiers last weekend. In other places in the country, the lack of serious leadership has nearly led to terror attacks. It is very clear that we cannot trust the judgment of the man who is currently holding the office of prime minister.

Interviewing the Generals

I hope you do not find it irritating that I am devoting so much space in my column to Yair Lapid. I feel I have no choice but to focus on him, since he is the prime minister of Israel. This may sound bizarre, outlandish, and even unfathomable, but at this moment, that is the case.

How did this man end up in the top position in the country’s government? In retrospect, it has become clear that Lapid was quietly maneuvering himself into the position behind the scenes. While everyone thought that Naftoli Bennett was pulling off the greatest political escapade of his life, Bennett himself was ultimately removed from the scene (in no small measure on account of Lapid himself), and his position was ceded to the “alternate” prime minister, Yair Lapid. When Lapid agreed to pay any price demanded by the Joint Arab List to keep the government afloat, it wasn’t really out of concern for the survival of Bennett’s government; rather, it was to ensure that Lapid himself would ultimately take power.

According to the agreement they had signed at the government’s inception, Bennett would have remained in power until the election if the left had been responsible for bringing the government down; however, since Bennett himself dissolved the government, Lapid was automatically placed in power. And for all we know, Lapid might well have been pulling strings to bring about this result. He was even willing to endure waves of public criticism for holding the position of alternate prime minister, the same position he had ridiculed Benny Gantz for assuming, to move himself closer to his ultimate goal. Yair Lapid was never interested only in the title of alternate prime minister; his real goal was to become the actual prime minister of Israel. And now he is there.

One does not have to be a charlatan to become the prime minister of Israel, but it can certainly help….

Last Wednesday, the novice prime minister interviewed the two generals who are candidates for the position of chief of staff, Eyal Zamir and Herzi Halevi. According to the statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, Lapid met separately with each candidate for an “in-depth discussion” and heard from them about “their worldviews on security.” It was probably a challenge for the Israeli public to suppress their laughter upon reading this. What does Yair Lapid know about security? It was almost laughable to imagine him trying to evaluate potential candidates for the top position in the army.

On a related note, Lapid boasted last weekend, “Twenty-eight years after the establishment of the peace agreement with Jordan, we are taking it one step forward.” This was a reference to the “Shaar HaYarden” project, which established an industrial area to be shared between the two countries. But Lapid’s pride was misplaced; the project was actually an initiative of Shimon Peres, which was suspended by the Jordanians. Jordan has now renewed the initiative, but Lapid is taking credit for it. That, in a nutshell, is Yair Lapid.

Photographed in the Field

The tensions in the south were triggered by a military operation launched by Lapid that led to the capture of Bassam al-Saadi, the leader of Islamic Jihad in Jenin. After al-Saadi’s arrest, a closure was imposed on southern Israel due to fears of retaliation from Islamic Jihad. The residents of the south were furious with Lapid; while they used to believe that the decision makers in the government, especially the prime minister, were capable of making reasonable and sound judgments, they felt that this was no longer the case. Then again, how could anyone trust an overgrown child with no sense of security or personal responsibility who has done nothing but make mistakes?

Of course, Lapid did not miss an opportunity to have his picture taken — which is his personal expertise — as if he were the next Arik Sharon. He made sure to have himself photographed at the site of the hostilities, facing enemy territory and conferring with high-ranking generals or perusing military maps while wearing a self-important expression. But as usual, the records of his own past statements turned Lapid into a laughingstock, exposing him for the hypocrite he is. After his appearance in the military zone, a video from years ago was publicized in which Lapid tore into Netanyahu for doing exactly the same thing. “The function of a political leader, of a prime minister, isn’t to stand on a hilltop after an offensive, surrounded by generals and holding maps and binoculars,” Lapid asserted at the time. “It makes for a good picture, but any low-ranking official can do it better.”

The ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad took effect at 11:30 on Sunday night. There have been a few violations since that time, but as of this writing it is still in force, and quiet has been restored. Some say that one of the preconditions for the ceasefire, which was brokered by Egypt, was the release of a high-ranking figure in Islamic Jihad who was arrested by Israel. I do not know whether those rumors are true or false, but I can certainly tell you one thing: When Netanyahu was the prime minister and a military campaign against Islamic Jihad ended in a ceasefire, the head of the opposition — a certain Yair Lapid — slammed the move as a sign of capitulation to terror.

Allow me one last word on that subject: At the height of this volatile situation, Lapid conducted a critical conference call instead of meeting with the responsible officials in person. The participants in the call included everyone who should have been part of such a conversation, including Chief of Staff Kochavi, Defense Minister Gantz, and Prime Minister Lapid. It was later revealed that there were technical difficulties during the conversation, and that Lapid wasn’t even connected for most of the discussion; he could not hear the speakers and he did not contribute a word. But his absence did not interfere with the conference at all.

And I couldn’t help but be reminded of an old quip that has its origins in the early days of the Knesset: One day, an empty car pulled up to the entrance of the Knesset building. There was no one of note inside. Then the door of the car opened, and the prime minister emerged….

At the Kosel During the Nine Days

But it is time to move on to other topics. For instance, there is the strange story of the American ambassador to Israel coming to Netanyahu and pressuring him to help pass the visa exemption for Israelis visiting America. There is also Jared Kushner’s revelation that President Trump was angry with Netanyahu and considered taking certain steps against him. The amusing stories about various American presidents told by Yonah Bartel, a former aide to Shimon Peres, are also deserving of some attention. B’ezras Hashem, I will write more about these stories next week.

As of this writing, the mood of Tisha B’Av is still palpable in the air. Although we all take a deep breath and move directly into bein hazemanim after the fast is over, it is still a long, wearying, and difficult day, when the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh dominates our consciousness. As usual, the Kosel plaza was crowded with visitors on Tisha B’Av. At the conclusion of the fast, a few tzaddikim served cake and beverages to the masses (along with something to drink for Havdoloh).

The atmosphere at the Kosel is always very special, but there are some days when it is particularly meaningful — such as Chol Hamoed, Shavuos, and, of course, Tisha B’Av. Where else would we feel the weight of the Churban, if not at the site of the Beis Hamikdosh itself? Indeed, the mood at the Kosel on Tisha B’Av was solemn and mournful.

When I arrived at the Kosel, I found a highly diverse crowd of people filling the plaza. There were young men and old men, chareidim and chilonim, some men wearing black hats and others wearing cardboard yarmulkes, some in T-shirts and others wrapped in talleisim. And it occurred to me that every one of those people — every single one of them — was a potential voter for a chareidi party. Every person who visited the Kosel on Tisha B’Av was there because of their sensitivity for Jewish tradition — even those who looked like full-fledged chilonim. If they came to the Kosel, it was because of some deep inner yearning for their roots. It was because they cared.

And then I thought about the election. Many of those visitors to the Kosel actually vote for right-wing parties; if they are convinced to vote for chareidi parties, it will increase the chareidim’s strength, which is also important, but it won’t necessarily add to the right-wing bloc’s power. Some of them, however, undoubtedly vote for the center, the anti-Bibi right, or even the left. If those people can be won over, it may make a major difference in the outcome of the election. And if they were at the Kosel on Tisha B’Av, there must be a way to reach them. We have another three months remaining until the election, and it is time to get to work. If every person brings in one more vote, the impact can be enormous.

Mourning Without Distraction

My visit to the Kosel also led me to contemplate the fact that the Beis Hamikdosh lies in ruins and, as the novi tells us, has been overrun by foxes. Today’s “foxes” are those who wish to destroy the sanctity of the site. But instead of thinking about them, my thoughts turned to the people who still keenly feel the loss represented by Tisha B’Av.

There are some exceptional people in our days who feel intense pain over the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh. Many years ago, I was sitting with one of the gedolei Yisroel in the hospital on Tisha B’Av. The hours were slowly ticking past, the room was stifling, and the venerable rov was sitting in silence. At one point, I remarked to him, “This is a boring afternoon.”

He bristled. “Boring?” he exclaimed. “It is assur to take your mind off the aveilus!” He may have been sitting in silence, but he did not stop thinking about the Churban — exactly as the halacha requires.

Two weeks ago, hespedim were delivered for the great Rav Shlomo Hakohen Kaplan. Rav Zev Kahan, one of the roshei yeshiva of Yeshivas Maor HaTalmud in Rechovot, explained that Rav Shlomo Kaplan had personified the avodah of davening. Rav Aviezer Piltz, the rosh yeshiva of Tifrach, spoke about the niftar’s love for chesed and quoted the Gemara’s statement (Yoma 9b), “In the second Beis Hamikdosh, the people engaged in Torah, mitzvos, and gemillus chasodim; why was it destroyed? Because there was baseless hatred.” How, Rav Piltz asked, was it possible for baseless hatred to coexist with acts of chesed? He explained that ahavas chesed is a concept to be distinguished from the mere performance of chesed, and he concluded, “That love for chesed was the defining trait of Rav Shlomo Kaplan!”

Rav Aviezer added another fascinating comment: “The Gemara states (Kesuvos 111b) that it is better to show the whiteness of one’s teeth to another person [i.e., to smile at him] than to provide him with milk to drink. I once commented that this can also be read to mean that it is better to cause the whiteness of another person’s teeth to show — that is, not only to smile at another person, but to cause him to smile as well. And that, too, was one of the hallmarks of Rav Shlomo Kaplan’s character!”

What Concessions Were Made to Lebanon?

When I saw the front-page story in Haaretz last Monday, I shuddered. The headline, which spanned the entire width of the page, announced dramatically that it was believed that Israel would soon reach an economic agreement with Lebanon. Since I do not believe that Prime Minister Lapid would make a smart or savvy move, I feared that this was a sign that Israel was poised to make further concessions. After all, that is exactly what Lapid did when he met with King Abdullah of Jordan. Although he mocked Netanyahu for giving up strategic land in exchange for a photo-op, Lapid himself surrendered Israeli sovereignty in the Old City of Yerushalayim and reined in the army and the Border Guard in exchange for a photo-op with King Abdullah. And there is no telling what price he paid for an agreement with Lebanon….

A few days later, Yisroel Hayom reported, “The maritime border between Israel and Lebanon did not interest anyone until the discovery of this natural gas field, which is actually worth billions of dollars. Natural gas is more than merely a local issue between Israel and Lebanon. In the geopolitical reality of our world today, with the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine and the massive energy crisis in Europe, a supply of gas from these reserves can turn Israel into a global energy superpower and position it among the most strategic countries in the world. In advance of the coming winter and in light of the developing energy crisis, everyone is feeling pressure. The countries of Europe and the United States are pushing for agreements to be reached quickly, so that the gas can be extracted as quickly as possible.”

This brings us to the important part of the article: “Do you know why there was ‘significant progress’ in the negotiations? In all likelihood, it is because Israel gave in once again to the Hezbollah terror organization. The negotiations were held quietly, but if the information that has been leaked is correct, then Israel seems to have given in to the original demand of the Lebanese, as well as adding a small yet significant bonus in the form of an exchange of territories.

“Stay with me for a moment: About a quarter of the disputed Qana gas field is definitely in Israeli territory. But according to those reports, the State of Israel has agreed to give Lebanon the entire gas field, including the small part that belongs to Israel, in exchange for ‘a territorial swap.’ You know the value of an exchange of territories in the sea, don’t you? The State of Israel gave up rich natural gas resources, and it received territories on the sea instead.”

This is exactly what I feared. It doesn’t take any knowledge of security or diplomatic strategy to realize that someone is betraying the best interests of this country. That person did the same thing when he was the foreign minister (when Ayelet Shaked once commented that Lapid was “perpetrating a terror attack every day”) and he is continuing to wreak havoc now as the prime minister of Israel.

Bus Fare Reform Harms the Poor

There is much to write about the election campaign, and I will cover much of that information in the coming weeks. For now, let us take a look at the biggest issue at stake in this election.

Everyone acknowledges that the top issue in the election campaign is the soaring cost of living in Israel, for the simple reason that it is a source of distress for every Israeli citizen. The prices of staples such as bread and milk are skyrocketing, and many other basic expenses, such as car insurance, are rising drastically. The average citizen is drowning in a sea of expenses.

Take, for example, the new public transportation reform plan known as Derech Shavah, which went into effect last week. This plan turned out to be beneficial for the wealthier class but detrimental to the weaker sectors of the country. In one newspaper, I found a report that listed the groups who suffered the most harm from the changes: “The first people to be harmed were the residents of the cities where the fares for bus rides within the cities used to be lower. The second group were the residents of the periphery, who previously enjoyed lower rates for their bus service, especially on longer trips, and will now have to pay based on the length of a journey…. The third group are passengers in Yehuda and Shomron, who used to receive a 50% discount for paying in cash. And the fourth group are the passengers who used the ‘accumulated value’ arrangement [which enabled bus passengers to load funds onto their bus cards to be used on any bus on the country and to receive an additional 25% of the sums they paid].”

Many news outlets quoted Elyashiv Reichner, a resident of Yeruchom, who had the following to say: “Good morning, Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli. Thanks to you, a daily train pass from Yeruchom to Tel Aviv, which cost me 36.5 shekels until yesterday, has now gone up to 74 shekels.”

There you have it: The poor are continuing to suffer. The government is continuing to turn a blind eye to the needs of the residents of the periphery and various settlements, the chareidim, and the poor. How callous, and how unfortunate.

A Painful Testament to Rising Prices

Prices are skyrocketing, the public is suffering, and no one is uttering a peep. There are no cars with loudspeakers blaring messages of protest on Rechov Balfour and no tent protests in Tel Aviv. When a groundswell of rising prices flooded Israel during Netanyahu’s tenure, the country was rocked by outrage. The hatred for Netanyahu simply robbed them of their capacity for reason, and the country’s economic woes turned into violent rhetoric against the prime minister. But now that Netanyahu is not in office, the crushing economic burden has been met with silence.

This week, I came across the following lines, written by the organizer of a camp program for children with special needs (from an organization known as Mesugalim), and I couldn’t help but feel a pang of sorrow:

“You have no idea what the rise in the cost of living has caused. Next week, we will be taking 600 children to summer camp programs. That is slightly more than last year. There will be the same number of counselors: a total of 1,300 people. It is a weeklong program. The programming is the same, the campus is the same, and the food, the transportation, and all the purchases are exactly the same as last year. In 2021, our expenses reached a total of 1,320,670 shekels; in 2022, we have reached 2,124,440 shekels. I have been spending the past two days struggling to find an error, but there is none. The costs of disposable utensils, catering, and food alone have increased our expenses by at least 30%. And only a single year has passed.

“Of course, we are still receiving the same government subsidy that we had in 2017. There was a time when it covered 50% of our expenses; now it barely accounts for 30%. The cost of transportation increased by 25%, insurance increased by 12%, and food items such as rolls, fruit, and other staples rose by 14%. Disposable utensils increased in cost by 30%, and campuses cost 10% more on account of the electricity. I am completely at the point of despair.”

But it should be unthinkable for Mesugalim to give in to despair. The children of Mesugalim are depending on them; for these 600 autistic children, their parents, and their thousands of brothers and sisters, this is the one week of the year they are able to finally breathe. The insanity of the economy should not be allowed to get in the way of that priceless reprieve.

You Can’t Take the Credit Without the Blame

MK Yinon Azulai was interviewed on the Knesset Channel this week, and it was a delight to listen to him. He sat facing three of the most imposing figures in the Israeli media, all of whom were working hard to trip him up — perhaps because that is their job — and he defended himself expertly. His performance was a masterpiece of public relations. The interviewers questioned him about the agricultural reform that was allegedly supposed to lower prices and was opposed by the opposition. Azulai responded with a cogent argument and even put them in their place by telling them caustically, “Let me explain to you exactly what was approved in the Knesset.” At a different point in the conversation, he said pointedly, “How gracious of you; not only are you asking me questions, you are also answering them on my behalf.”

At one point, the interviewers commented that Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman is taking pride in the fact that he lowered the cost of gasoline by a shekel and a half per liter. Azulai replied, “Just a minute. When the price went up, the finance minister claimed that it was because the price was rising all over the world and that Israel needed to follow the rest of the world. Now that the price is going down because gasoline is becoming cheaper everywhere, why has it suddenly become his own achievement? Let him decide: Is the price of gas in Israel determined by the price elsewhere in the world, or is Lieberman the one who is setting the price? How can it be the world’s fault when the price goes up here, but his accomplishment when the price goes down?” There was very little that they could say in response to that flawless argument.

Police Fabricate Charges Against a Resident of Meah Shearim

The criminal justice system in Israel has been coming under fire from every direction. Moshe Saada’s accusations against the deputy director of the Department of Internal Police Investigations, the attorney general, the police chief, and the state prosecutor — which I wrote about last week — should have shaken the entire judiciary and caused plenty of heads to roll. At the very least, it should have caused the entire system to be revamped. I will not even mention the Prison Service here, but they are deserving of the same withering treatment.

And then there is the police force. Just this week, two new scandals erupted concerning the police. First, there was the revelation that the police had “inadvertently” transferred intelligence information to a criminal. Perhaps we can concede that mistakes can happen, but that doesn’t account for the publication of the Merari report (about illegal police wiretapping), which was a deliberate tactic rather than a simple error! And now that the results of the investigation are in, it turns out that while the police didn’t use the Pegasus program to hack into citizens’ phones without a warrant, they certainly collected information from those phones through other illegal means. The police have breathed a sigh of relief now that they have been cleared of the charges of committing a major crime, but does that make their minor crimes acceptable? They seem to be ignoring those uncomfortable revelations.

In my view, however, this pales in comparison to the other story that hit the press this week: the revelation that the police deliberately manufactured charges against a resident of Meah Shearim who had not committed a crime (unless it is illegal to shout at police officers in the street from one’s porch — but even that would not justify falsifying charges against the man).

It began when a resident of Meah Shearim was arrested and charged with taking part in an illegal gathering and disturbing the public order in various ways. The defendant’s lawyer managed to produce footage from a security camera in his apartment building that showed that the police actually took him into custody in his home, and that he was not involved in any sort of public disturbance or riot. This left the prosecution with no choice but to drop the charges. But what would have happened if the police officers, who ran up to the defendant’s home in fury to arrest him in response to his catcalls, hadn’t been caught on camera? The trial would have continued, of course, even though the charges had been deliberately trumped up by the police themselves. An innocent man might have gone to jail, with the police knowing full well that he hadn’t committed a crime at all. Moreover, what will happen now that the charges were dropped? Will the police officers themselves face criminal charges for trying to cause a man to be falsely convicted of a crime he didn’t commit?

As far as I am concerned, this behavior is just as abhorrent as hacking into private citizens’ phones without a warrant or placing sensitive information in the hands of a criminal.

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